by Trapper John
Some pharmacists across the country are refusing to fill prescriptions for birth control and morning-after pills, saying that dispensing the medications violates their personal moral or religious beliefs. . . . An increasing number of clashes are occurring in drugstores across the country. Pharmacists often risk dismissal or other disciplinary action to stand up for their beliefs, while shaken teenage girls and women desperately call their doctors, frequently late at night, after being turned away by sometimes-lecturing men and women in white coats.
"There are pharmacists who will only give birth control pills to a woman if she's married. There are pharmacists who mistakenly believe contraception is a form of abortion and refuse to prescribe it to anyone," said Adam Sonfield of the Alan Guttmacher Institute in New York, which tracks reproductive issues. "There are even cases of pharmacists holding prescriptions hostage, where they won't even transfer it to another pharmacy when time is of the essence." That is what happened to Kathleen Pulz and her husband, who panicked when the condom they were using broke. Their fear really spiked when the Walgreens pharmacy down the street from their home in Milwaukee refused to fill an emergency prescription for the morning-after pill. "I couldn't believe it," said Pulz, 44, who with her husband had long ago decided they could not afford a fifth child. "How can they make that decision for us? I was outraged. At the same time, I was sad that we had to do this. But I was scared. I didn't know what we were going to do."
Look, there's no question that the problem of the renegade pharmacist who won't fill a lawfully prescribed prescription needs to be addressed. It's unthinkable and unconscionable that a young woman in a rural area, with access to just one pharmacy, might be unable to obtain medicine that her physician has prescibed, simply because of a whim of the local pharmacist. Kudos to those states, such as California, which are considering amending their laws to require pharmacists to do their jobs and fill properly prescribed prescriptions. But one easy way to get around at least some of the bigotry and the nonsense would be for the FDA to allow Plan B to be sold OTC. Even though the agency isn't formally taking comments at this time, it can't hurt to write them and let them know how you feel.